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Modernisme (Catalan pronunciation: , Europe around the turn of the 20th century, in Catalonia the style acquired its own unique personality. Its distinct name comes from its special relationship, primarily with Catalonia and Barcelona, which were intensifying their local characteristics for socio-ideological reasons after the revival of Catalan culture and in the context of spectacular urban and industrial development. It is equivalent to a number of other fin de siècle art movements going by the names of Art Nouveau in France and Belgium, Jugendstil in Germany, Sezession in Austria-Hungary, Liberty style in Italy and Modern or Glasgow Style in Scotland, and was active from roughly 1888 (the First Barcelona World Fair) to 1911 (the death of Joan Maragall, the most important Modernista poet). The Modernisme movement was centred in the city of Barcelona, though it reached far beyond, and is best known for its architectural expression, especially in the work of Antoni Gaudí, but was also significant in sculpture, poetry, theatre and painting. Notable painters include Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas,[1] Isidre Nonell, Hermen Anglada Camarasa, Joaquim Mir, Eliseu Meifrèn, Lluïsa Vidal and Miquel Utrillo. Notable sculptors are Josep Llimona, Eusebi Arnau and Miquel Blai.


  • Main concepts 1
  • Architecture and the plastic arts 2
  • Literature 3
  • Linguistics 4
  • The end of Modernisme 5
  • UNESCO World Heritage 6
  • Architects 7
    • Other architects 7.1
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Main concepts

Duana de Barcelona (Customs House), by Enric Sagnier)
Santuari de Santa Maria Magdalena, by José Sala, in Novelda, Valencian Community

Catalan nationalism was an important influence upon Modernista artists, who were receptive to the ideas of Valentí Almirall and Enric Prat de la Riba and wanted Catalan culture to be regarded as equal to that of other European countries. Such ideas can be seen in some of Rusiñol's plays against the Spanish army (most notably L'Hèroe), in some authors close to anarchism (Jaume Brossa and Gabriel Alomar, for example) or in the articles of federalist anti-monarchic writers such as Miquel dels Sants Oliver. They also opposed the traditionalism and religiousness of the Renaixença Catalan Romantics, whom they ridiculed in plays such as Santiago Rusiñol's Els Jocs Florals de Canprosa (roughly, "The Poetry Contest of Proseland"), a satire of the revived Jocs Florals and the political milieu which promoted them.

Modernistes largely rejected bourgeois values, which they thought to be the opposite of art. Consequently, they adopted two stances: they either set themselves apart from society in a bohemian or culturalist attitude (Decadent and Parnassian poets, Symbolist playwrights, etc.) or they attempted to use art to change society (Modernista architects and designers, playwrights inspired by Henrik Ibsen, some of Maragall's poetry, etc.)

Architecture and the plastic arts

The earliest example of Modernista

  • Arxiu de Patrimoni Arquitectònic de Catalunya (EPSEB-UPC)
  • Museu del Modernisme Català museum in Barcelona dedicated to Modernisme

External links

  1. ^ Hughes, Robert (1993) 'Barcelona', London, ISBN 0-00-272167-8, p. 253.
  2. ^ Solà-Morales, I, (1992) 'Arquitectura Modernista, fi de segle a Barcelona', Barcelona, ISBN 84-252-1563-3.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Mackay, David, 'Modern architecture in Barcelona, 1854-1929', Barcelona, 1985.
  6. ^ Official List of the UNESCO site "Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona" (1997)
  7. ^ Official List of the UNESCO Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí" (1994, 2005)
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Salvador Vinyals


See also

  • Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia, the great builder of buildings for the bourgeoisie to the l'Eixample.
  • Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert, Gaudi's collaborator, creator of the fountain of the Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, and professor of the Escola Superior d'Arquitectura.
  • Cèsar Martinell i Brunet, author of nearly 40 wineries (The Cathedrals of the Wine), and agricultural buildings.
  • Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, author of the Arc de Triomf of Barcelona (gate entrance to the Exposition of 1888) and the Casa Pia Batlló of the Rambla Catalunya, Gran Via.
  • Joan Rubió i Bellver, pupil of Domènech i Montaner and disciple and assistant of Gaudí between 1893 and 1905 to the Sagrada Família, to the Casa Batlló and the Parc Güell. He built the Casa Golferichs, the Casa Pomar and the building of the Escola Industrial.
  • Josep Amargós i Samaranch
  • Francesc Berenguer i Mestres
  • Domènec Boada i Piera
  • Cristóbal Cascante i Colom
  • Ferran Cels
  • Eduard Ferrés i Puig
  • Josep Font i Gumà
  • Josep Graner i Prat
  • Miquel Madorell i Rius
  • Bernardí Martorell i Puig
  • Rafael Masó i Valentí
  • Francesc de Paula Morera i Gatell
  • Lluís Muncunill i Parellada
  • Camil Oliveras i Gensana
  • Ignasi Oms i Ponsa
  • Pere Caselles i Tarrats
  • Josep Maria Pericas i Morros
  • Josep Pujol i Brull
  • Pere Ros i Tort
  • Manuel Vega i March
  • Salvador Vinyals[10]

Other architects

  • Antoni Gaudí, who went beyond mainstream Modernisme, creating a personal style based on observation of the nature and exploitation of traditional Catalan construction traditions. He was using regulated geometric shapes as the hyperbolic paraboloid, the hyperboloid, the helicoid and the conoide.[8]
  • Lluís Domènech i Montaner created a genuine alternative architecture. Along with Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas he worked towards a modern and international style. Domènech continued on from Viollet-le-Duc, his work characterized by a mix of constructive rationalism and ornaments inspired in the Hispano-Arab architecture as seen in the Palau de la Música Catalana, in the Hospital de Sant Pau or in the Institut Pere Mata of Reus.[9] His Hotel Internacional at Passeig de Colom in Barcelona (demolished after the 1888 World Fair) was an early example of industrial building techniques.
  • Josep Puig i Cadafalch was a Catalan architect, politician and historian who was involved in many projects to retore older buildings. One of his most well-known buildings is his rebuilding of the Casa Amatller in Passeig de Gràcia. It has elements in both the Catalan tradition and others originating in the Netherlands or the German Gothic. Neo-Gothic is also apparent in his Codorniu Winery (Caves Codorniu, 1904). He built Casa Amatller and Casa Trinxet.

There were more than 100 architects who made buildings of the Modernista style, three of whom are particularly well known for their outstanding buildings: Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.


Casa Batlló, by Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona.
The Sagrada Família, an icon of Modernisme, by Antoni Gaudí.

Some of the works of Catalan Modernism have been listed by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage:

UNESCO World Heritage

Modernista architecture survived longer. The Spanish city of Melilla in Northern Africa experienced an economic boom at the turn of the 20th century, and its new bourgeoisie showed its riches by massively ordering Modernista buildings. The workshops established there by Catalan architect Enrique Nieto continued producing decorations in this style even when it was out of fashion in Barcelona, which results in Melilla having, oddly enough, the second largest concentration of Modernista works after Barcelona.

By 1910, Modernisme had been accepted by the bourgeoisie and had pretty much turned into a fad. It was around this time that Noucentista artists started to ridicule the rebel ideas of Modernisme and propelled a more bourgeois art and a more right-of-center version of Catalan Nationalism, which eventually rose to power with the victory of the Lliga Regionalista in 1912. Until Miguel Primo de Rivera's dictatorship suppressed all substantial public use of Catalan, Noucentisme was immensely popular in Catalonia. However, Modernisme did have a revival of sorts during the Second Spanish Republic, with avant-garde writers such as Futurist Joan-Salvat Papasseit earning comparisons to Joan Maragall, and the spirit of Surrealists such as Josep Vicent Foix or Salvador Dalí being clearly similar to the rebellion of the Modernistes, what with Dalí proclaiming that Catalan Romanticist Àngel Guimerà was a putrefact pervert. However, the ties between Catalan art from the 1930s and Modernisme are not that clear, as said artists were not consciously attempting to continue any tradition.

The end of Modernisme

Modernista ideas impelled L'Avenç collaborator Pompeu Fabra to devise a new orthography for Catalan. However, only with the later rise of Noucentisme did his projects come to fruition and end the orthographic chaos which reigned at the time.


Modernista theatre was also important, as it smashed the insubstantial regional plays that were popular in 19th century Catalonia. There were two main schools of Modernista theatre: social theatre, which intended to change society and denounce injustice—the worker stories of Ignasi Iglésias, for example Els Vells ("The old ones"); the Ibsen-inspired works of Joan Puig i Ferreter, most notably Aigües Encantades ("Enchanted Waters"); Rusiñol's antimilitaristic play L'Hèroe—and symbolist theatre, which emphasised the distance between artists and the bourgeoisie—for example, Rusiñol's Cigales i Formigues ("Cicadas and Ants") or El Jardí Abandonat ("The Abandoned Garden").

In poetry, Modernisme closely follows Symbolist and Parnassian poetry, with poets frequently crossing the line between both tendencies or alternating between them. Another important strain of Modernista poetry is Joan Maragall's "Paraula viva" (Living word) school, which advocated Nietzschean vitalism and spontaneous and imperfect writing over cold and thought-over poetry. Although poetry was very popular with the Modernistes and there were lots of poets involved in the movement, Maragall is the only Modernista poet who is still widely read today.

In literature, Modernisme stood out the most in narrative. The nouvelles and novels of decadent writers such as Prudenci Bertrana (whose highly controversial Josafat involved a demented priest who ends up killing a prostitute), Caterina Albert (also known as Víctor Catala), author of bloody, expressionistic tales of rural violence, opposed to the idealisation of nature propugned by Catalan Romantics, or Raimon Casellas have been highly influential upon later Catalan narrative, essentially recovering a genre that had been lost due to political causes since the end of the Middle Ages. Those writers often, though not always, show influences from Russian literature of the 19th Century and also Gothic novels. Still, works not influenced by those sources, such as Joaquim Ruyra's slice-of-life tales of the North-Eastern Catalan coast are perhaps even more influential than that of the aforementioned authors, and Rusiñol's well-known L'auca del senyor Esteve (roughly "The Tale of Mr. Esteve"; an auca is a type of illustrated broadside, similar to a one-sheet comic book) is an ironic critique of Catalan bourgeoisie more related to ironic, pre-Realist Catalan costumisme.


Antoni Gaudí is the best-known architect of this movement. Other influential architects were Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and later Josep Maria Jujol, Rafael Guastavino and Enrique Nieto.[5]

'El drac' (dragon) in the Parc Güell, by Antoni Gaudí.

Early 20th century architecture in Valencia was strongly influenced by Modernisme. The Central Market (Mercado Central) in Valencia, one of the largest in Europe, covers more than 8,000 square metres, over two floors, with a predominantly eclectic pre-Modernist style. Its unusual roof comprises original domes and sloping sections at different heights, while the interior seems to be lined in a range of materials such as iron, wood, ceramics and polychromed tiles. The beauty of the building stands out especially on account of the light that enters through the roof at various points, and through coloured window panels.[3] The North Station (Spanish: Estación del Norte, Valencian: Estació del Nord) is the main railway station in Valencia, Spain located in the city centre next to the Plaza de Toros de Valencia. It was declared Good of Cultural Heritage in 1987. The Mercado de Colón (Columbus Market) is an old market located in the center of the city of Valencia, Spain. Its building was designed by architect Francisco Mora Berenguer between 1914 and 1916. This is a clear example of Modernist architecture of the early century. It was declared a national monument. It impresses with its extraordinary facade and lavish decor.[4]

Columbus Market (Mercat de Colom)

is an outstanding example. MNACTEC. The textile factory which is now home to the Catalan national technical museum Reus and Terrassa - in many Catalan towns, notably cases d'estiueig construction, the Catalan industrial bourgeoisie built industrial buildings and summer residences - Modernista While Barcelona was the centre of [2]

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